Led from Indian Territory by their New England schoolmaster, a band of young Cherokee Argonauts discovered gold here 1850. Town established 1853 when first stores erected by Welsh miners. During heyday of 1875, Cherokee boasted its own theatre, race track, and brewery; 2 churches, 3 lodges, 8 hotels, 17 saloons, and a population over 1,000.
First diamonds in U.S. discovered here 1858. Hundreds found since. Largest weighing 6 carats.
Site of world's greatest hydraulic gold mine, the Spring Valley, a consolidation of smaller claims comprising 26,000 acres, 100 miles of tunnel and canal, 9 miles of sluice box, 11 reservoirs, 18 monitors, world-famous inverted flume, and the 40-mile "Cherokee Strip" to impound tailings. Over 300 men employed day and night. Illumined by brilliant arc lights, gold production exceeded 15-million dollars.
President Rutherford B. Hayes and General W. T. Sherman toured workings 1880. Thomas Edison, W. R. Vanderbilt, and Vice President T. A. Hendricks held interests here.
Notable pioneers included Louis Glass, Mine Secretary and Telegraph Agent 1871-89; and Gardner F. Williams, Mine Superintendent 1880-84. Glass pioneered the telephone industry of California, serving as director and vice president, Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co. 1889-1919. Williams subsequently sailed for South Africa, where he and Cecil Rhodes amalgamated renowned Kimberley Diamond Mines into DeBeers Consolidated, which he managed 19 years.
—Dedicated at the dawn of a new era, June 11, 1967—
Plaque placed by California Heritage Council, in cooperation with the Cherokee Nation, DeBeers Consolidated Mines, Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., Butte County Historical Society, and Mr. & Mrs. James Lenhoff. Orator of the day: A. Gardner Williams, honored dignitaries: Governor Ronald Reagan, Chief W.W. Neeler, James G. Nisbey, Herbert Hoover III, Mattie R. Lund.
Monument erected from native Placer specimens, diamond ore from South Africa, and memorial stones from Cherokee Capitol and Hale Seminary, Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Ken L. Brockman, Mason.